surviving the holidays with family

3 Fact-based Strategies for Surviving the Holidays

Right around this time, every year, my clients’ lives begin to churn with guilt and stress, and they wonder how surviving the holidays is possible. My clients’ tell me about all the extra stuff they “have to” do to get ready for the holidays. They tell me about the family traditions they’ve already begun to dread. They say they wish they could enjoy the holidays more. Then they chastise themselves as being “bad” people for feeling that way. Let me say here the same thing I say to each of them: The only way to enjoy the holidays is to do what fulfills you. When you start with a sense of obligation (a “have to”), that leads to guilt, which, in turn, leads directly to resentment. The way to beat what I call this Obligation-Guilt-Resentment cycle is by adapting three crucial strategies: 1. Take care of yourself first. There’s a reason the airlines tell us to put on our oxygen masks before helping others. When we’re tired or fed up or angry or emotionally exhausted, it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to show care to those around us. Sure, I’ve had plenty of clients who think they do an excellent job of hiding their feelings about the holidays, but in nearly every case, they’ve discovered that their loved ones did know they were unhappy. Kids say, “Dad’s always a grump at Christmas,” or their spouse says, “We have a major fight just after Thanksgiving every year, without fail.” If you don’t want to ruin the holidays for those around you, you’re going to have to get good at making sure you take the time to do the stuff that you enjoy, this is the first key to surviving the holidays. 2. Accept that there are no “bad” feelings. It’s okay to dislike going to your mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving every year. Hate the meatballs that have been a family tradition since before you were born? That’s okay. It’s even okay not to enjoy playing host to people you love. The only way to discover happiness is first to identify and acknowledge your other, sometimes uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, emotions don’t make us bad; actions do. Feeling so angry at someone that you want to punch them doesn’t make you a violent person; punching them makes you violent. So, accept the fact that you hate spending $2500 to fly your …